Q. I was rubbing some Vicks VapoRub on my daughter and by accident I touched my nose after sneezing. A miniscule amount of it went into my nostril. Will this be harmful to me? For a few hours I could taste it even though I rinsed my mouth out immediately.

A. We have warned in the past about keeping Vicks VapoRub out of the nostrils where it could be inhaled. The petrolatum base might then accumulate in the lungs and cause inflammation called chemical pneumonitis.

This caution is directed at the practice of deliberately daubing Vicks in the nose as some people do. We doubt the miniscule amount that got into your nostril will cause you any harm.

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  1. Miche

    Oh my! I’ve done it for many years…. every winter. I got the trick from my granny who did it for as long as I can remember. Bummer, it’s the only thing that seems to really soothe a hay fever nose. I won’t be doing it anymore though but I’m not going to stress either…too late for that.

  2. Joan
    New Jersey

    I have always had a problem with drooling in my sleep. I hated waking up to a wet pillow case. I put Vick’s VapoRub in the corners of my mouth and across my lips and the drooling stopped. Now I am wondering if I am harming myself doing this. Any comments would be appreciated.

  3. LM

    I’m 18 and used vicks for the very first time yesterday, I put a little bit under my nose and around the nostrils but not inside (recommend by my mum) and on my chest and neck, but I wiped it off after a few minutes. I then did the breathing in vicks steam method for a minute or 2. This morning I also put a bit of vicks under my nose and around my nostrils but not inside, but again wiped it off after a minute. I haven’t used it since. Afterwards I read all these articles about how dangerous it can be to put it under your nose and now I’m scared even though I’ve only done it twice and the steam method once. Is it going to affect me with just those few times? Or does it only really affect those who use it regularly? Help :(

  4. Rachel

    It’s always the youngsters that worry too much.
    I’m 22 I’ve just stuck it on my feet chest and outside of nose and feel a bit better. I have a general cold :)
    I also boiled water and stuck a bit in it earlier and that worked too :)

  5. Jack Black

    Vicks changed the formula for VapoRub several years back (check the ingredient list on the box).
    The new version doesn’t work as well.

  6. Kallie

    To Elias and anyone else who suspects they have sleep apnea:
    Please bring up your concerns with a doctor. Otherwise you are risking high blood pressure, depression, diabetes, heart failure, stroke, and even falling asleep behind the wheel of a car. My dad uses a breathing machine every night, and although (of course) was resistant to using it at first, he has become so used to it. This is treatable and not worth putting your life or anyone else’s at risk. I still have nightmares of him swerving off the road.

  7. Antonio

    LOL we are on the same boat

  8. Edward V.

    What about the Vicks inhaler tube? Is that bad also?

  9. Danny

    I have just discovered the DO NOT PLACE IN MOUTH OR NOSTRILS.
    After using Vicks to aid sinuses by applying some to the inside of my nose for 4 football matches in the past two weeks i have discovered an uncomfortable cough at night before i sleep and when i wake up. I suffer with hayfever and i put it down to that but upon thinking about it, the syptoms were more specific than the constant sneezing and itchy eyes.
    I probably have never used Vicks for anything before and i have seen football players use it care free. This is a worrying matter given the complications it leads to. I was lucky enough that i have noticed something is wrong after maybe dabbing it on 4 or 5 times in two weeks but for long term uses the outcome sounds terminal. I read the Vicks product information on their website also the product itself, and i think the notice of warning is easily ignorable.
    As a suggestion they should raise a firmer awareness, thus saving doctors times and maybe even hospital situations. As i type i am experiencing discomfort with inhalation through my nose. Every breath i take in tickles my throat and causes me to cough. Should i be worried to the point of seeing a doctor immediatly ? Or is it a case of let it pass by after learning my lesson?

  10. rw

    I have a friend who put vicks up her nose for many many yrs and died of lung cancer.

  11. Nisei

    I don’t get it.
    You can put VapoRub in hot steaming water and inhale the vapors, yet you shouldn’t put some under your nose because it might harm you?
    Please explain.
    People’s Pharmacy response: If you inhale actual particles of the petroleum jelly base, your lungs cannot clear it. If you inhale the steam, it is primarily herbal components such as eucalyptol and thymol.

  12. Bonnie

    For years I have had great results with Peppermint oil. You can sniff it or put just a little on a Q tip and touch the inside of your nose. It only takes a drop, don’t use much it can burn, although that goes away shortly. I even put it on my tongue and swallow. It will definitely open you up. Hope this helps

  13. CSI

    In school we were taught to put Vick’s UNDER your nose (on your upper lip) to mask the odor… not in the nose.

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